A $30 million luxury spa centre planned for the Rotorua Lakefront will be complemented by a business originally intended to leave the Lakefront completely.
Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust and QE Health today announced Queen Elizabeth Health would stay at the Rotorua Lakefront after all.
After initial plans to build a bespoke facility at the Scion Innovation Park, the QE Hospital Community Trust has reached an agreement with Pukeroa Lakefront Holdings to build next door to its 77-year-old current home on the corner of Whakaue St and Memorial Drive.
It comes just in time - QE Health's current lease with Pukeroa was due to expire at the end of this month.
"Due to constructive negotiations and a large amount of goodwill by the landowner, Pukeroa, QE Health now has the ability to plan for the future with certainty," trust chairman Stewart Edward said.
"This agreement allows us to stay on the current site for now and keep operating. It also gives us more time to seek the funding required to enable us to build brand new premises.
"We have filed a Provincial Growth Fund application and are hopeful that will be approved so we can start construction."
Pukeroa Oruawhata group deputy chairman David Tapsell said a new QE Health facility would fit in well with the overall site including Pukeroa's proposed $30m Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa development.
"Although we will be offering different products these will be complementary, allowing the overall site to be promoted as a health and wellness precinct," he said.
Work on both projects is expected to begin next year, and it's hoped the new QE Health facility will open the year after.
QE Health employs about 70 staff and Tapsell said Wai Ariki was expected to employ another 70: "a significant boost for employment and the local and regional economy".
QE Health chief executive Aaron Randell said reaching the agreement with Pukeroa had taken four to five months.
"It has always been in the back of our minds that the end of the lease was coming up but it was not like they were threatening to kick us out ... It is exciting for our staff and clients to have certainty."
He said the current building was not designed for its current uses.
"We are doing the best we can for now though."
He said one of the biggest benefits of the new building would be co-locating certain groups of staff.
He declined to comment on why QE Health had veered away from its intentions announced last year, to move to the Scion campus but said it was always the intention to continue the legacy at the Lakefront if possible.
In September last year, QE Health announced its hopes to build a state-of-the-art wellness centre to move in to by November this year.
"The hope is we can close one door and open the next into our new building," former chief executive Andrina Romano said at the time.
She said the final months of 2018 would be spent finalising funding for the estimated $23m build and also finalising the bespoke design.
QE Health was originally built as a convalescent hospital for servicemen returning from World War II.
Programmes are funded by ACC and district health boards and are available privately.
Also on offer are a fully equipped gym that anyone can join, physiotherapy, orthotics, occupational therapy, psychology and counselling, rheumatology, yoga, and a fracture liaison service.
The spa is open to locals and tourists with a full range of mud, massage, thermal hot pools, and beauty therapy.
In 2016 Romano said the original building was only meant to be temporary, to last 10 to 15 years.